Tetrachromacy: “Super Vision” Genes

As humans, most of us share more things in common than we realize—one of which includes our ability to perceive the world around us. With the exception of some visually impaired individuals and a few others with known colorblindnesses, most of us are what scientists call “trichromats.” Veronique Greenwood of DiscoverMagazine.com said it best:

Our powers of color vision derive from cells in our eyes called cones, three types in all, each triggered by different wavelengths of light. Every moment our eyes are open, those three flavors of cone fire off messages to the brain. The brain then combines the signals to produce the sensation we call color.

A limited amount of research (the first known scientific reference was from a 1948 paper that briefly touched on the topic) has been done into what we might consider the opposite of colorblindness, referred to in the science world as dichromacy: tetrachromacy. In layman’s term’s, this basically boils down to some women being able to see more colors than the rest of us. Super vision! In scientific terms, it actually makes sense and doesn’t sound so far fetched.

Colorblindness is a trait that affects more men than women. Where regular, trichromatic humans have three cones in their eyes that perceive color, dichromats have two functional cones and one with a mutation. Since colorblindness is genetic, the women in families of colorblind men also carry this gene—yet they generally don’t suffer from its affects. They have three functional cones plus the mutant one. This then allows them to perceive a wider breadth of colors then those with only three healthy, functioning cones.

Now, none of this means that tetrachromats are discovering amazing new colors in every mundane object you see like some perpetual, never-ending acid trip. DamnInteresting.com’s Cynthia Wood states that:

If the modified color receptor is sensitive to wavelengths very close to a normal receptor, then the tetrachromat would merely have slightly better color-vision. The further apart the wavelength sensitivities of the receptors, the more the tetrachromat’s vision would differ from the norm.

This is all still extremely new, and not enough research has gone into it yet. One paper insists that we’re all tetrachromats, but not all of us can tap into our tetrachrome abilities:

There is now excellent data showing the architecture of the human visual system uses and supports photoreceptors containing four distinctly different spectral absorbers (chromophores).

Pretty interesting stuff!

 

Sources:

http://discovermagazine.com/2012/jul-aug/06-humans-with-super-human-vision#.UaRihdKnfrt

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0031891448900214

http://www.damninteresting.com/a-life-more-colorful/

http://www.neuronresearch.net/vision/files/tetrachromat.htm

 

Fresh Air Turned into Gasoline

www.themalaysianinsider.com gasoline
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Scientists have created a new technology that has allowed them to create gasoline out of thin air. The method also removes carbon dioxide from the air in the process.

By taking carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water, the scientists have successfully created a clean form of gasoline that can be used to its full potential even while using current infrastructure.

The companies chief executive, Peter Harrison, has stated that:

It looks and smells like petrol but it’s a much cleaner and clearer product than petrol derived from fossil oil. We don’t have any of the additives and nasty bits found in conventional petrol, and yet our fuel can be used in existing engines. It means that people could go on to a garage forecourt and put our product into their car without having to install batteries or adapt the vehicle for fuel cells or having hydrogen tanks fitted. It means that the existing infrastructure for transport can be used.”

The company, Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees, is responsible for the breakthrough.  They are currently seeking additional funding to make the process more efficient and ready for commercialization.

The executives of the company realize something that is becoming more pressing with each day that passes; fossil fuels are a dead end market.  No matter how long it takes, it is a limited resource, and becoming drastically more limited even as you read this.  The countries that are seeking and implementing energy independence will be the true super powers within the coming decades and centuries.

 

 

 

Sources:

The Independent- Exclusive: Pioneering scientists turn fresh air into petrol in massive boost in fight against energy crisis

Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees

 

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